GARDEN CITY, Long Island — Thirteen-year-old Liam O’Brien was a straight A student, happy and outgoing in the seventh grade at Garden City Middle School.
Then he made the soccer team, a dream come true for him, according to his parents, and that’s when the bullying began.
His parents say the bullying got so bad, their second oldest of five children ended up hospitalized with an eating disorder and depression.
“I said you have to tell me. I know something is wrong,” Deirdre O’Brien, Liam’s mother, told PIX11. “He said he was bullied all year and that he had a horrible seventh grade.”
Liam’s parents thought the worst was over. But at the start of eighth grade last month, there was another bullying beat down in the locker room.
And Liam went back into the hospital.
Liam’s parents have turned to Facebook to shine a spotlight on bullying.
“These particular kids said your life is a waste, why don’t you just go kill yourself,” Keith O’Brien, Liam’s father told PIX11. “How does a 12-year-old say that to another 12-year-old?”
According to Liam’s parents, Garden City Middle School conducted their own investigation into the allegations of bullying. They found the reports to be unsubstantiated.
Liam’s father said the school didn’t say the bullying didn’t happen, just that they didn’t know who was responsible.
The family received a surprise visit from members of the varsity soccer team at Garden City High school with a gift of a soccer ball and two jerseys.
Members of the school community are encouraged to wear orange shirts and take a stand against bullying with the hashtag #WeStandWithLiam.
“It hit all of us deeply,” Luke Connolly, a high school soccer player, told PIX11. “We want Liam to come back and be on this team.”
And Liam’s mother added:
“I look back at the signs of bullying and he had everyone of them,” Deirdre O’Brien told PIX11. “I never thought he’d be the type to be bullied."